Your Chamber at Work - November 27, 2019


It was a great night last night, as the KC Chamber celebrated our 132nd Annual Dinner. The culmination of the Dinner featured the announcement of our 2019 Kansas Citian of the Year – Alvin Brooks. His long history of service to Kansas City started when he joined the KCMO Police Department as one of only a handful of African American officers. He founded and directed the city’s Human Relations Department following the riots of 1968, then founded the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime in the mid-70’s. He’s been an Assistant City Manager, City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem, a mayoral candidate, a member of the KCMO Police Board, and the Hickman Mills School Board.

Al Brooks is one of the kindest and most compassionate men you’ll ever meet. His selection as Kansas Citian of the Year is richly deserved.

The evening also featured Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Missouri Governor Mike Parson, as we lauded the end of the bistate economic border war, something the Chamber has been working on for years. We heard from Incoming Chamber Chair Carolyn Watley and Outgoing Chair Gordon Lansford. The new owner of the Kansas City Royals John Sherman made a surprise appearance, congratulating Gordon and JE Dunn as part of the new Royals ownership.

And I can’t forget comedian – and unabashed Kansas Citian – Rob Riggle. What a funny guy he is.

The Chamber dinner always ushers in the holiday season, so let me wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the tryptophan and all its accompaniments.


Join us at The Fire House Event Hall for the final Neighborhood Networking of 2019 on Friday, December 13 from 8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m. at 4518 Troost. This new Chamber member is a fully restored, historic 150-capacity event space with high ceilings, original windows, a restored original floor, and full bar area with an antique crystal chandelier. Celebrate the end of the year with great coffee, new connections, and a tour of this great new event space. Neighborhood Networking is free for Chamber members and just $15 for non-members. Register here. Thanks to the Chamber’s 2019 networking sponsors: Mazuma, SS&C, and Sprint. Special thanks to Neighborhood Networking sponsors Andrews McMeel Universal and Spectrum Reach.


Join us for the Healthy KC Mentor Event: Work-Life Integration, Wednesday, December 4 from 4:30-6 p.m. at JE Dunn, 1001 Locust, in Downtown KC. You’ll hear from three Healthy KC-certified companies as they share their approach to creating a culture of health and wellness through work-life integration. Learn best practices, how to create and maintain policies that work, or simply enjoy some healthy appetizers and beverages as you network and learn about health in the workplace. This free event is open to all, but please register here. Thanks to our event sponsor JE Dunn. Healthy KC is presented in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. REACH Healthcare Foundation is our Foundation Supporter, and AdventHealth Shawnee Mission is Corporate Champion Sponsor.


Thousands of Kansas City area families are slipping through the cracks in our healthcare system — forced to choose between paying for life-saving care and putting food on the table or making a mortgage payment to keep their home. These families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to be able to afford coverage on the health insurance exchange.  Often, these citizens seek access to health care in the most expensive place—the emergency room—leading to increased costs for all taxpayers, particularly the business sector.

The KC Chamber this year will be working closely with initiatives in Kansas and Missouri to enact well-researched, responsible Medicaid expansion plans in both states.  In Missouri, Healthcare for Missouri, a nonpartisan coalition of voters, medical professionals and business leaders has mounted a campaign to put an expansion initiative on the November 2020 ballot and the KC Chamber Board has voted to support this measure which would bring more than a billion Missouri tax dollars home from Washington, D.C., every year.  Once passed, the Missouri initiative is estimated to provide healthcare to more than 200,000 Missourians caught in the coverage gap and provide responsible, long-term funding strategies for the state.

In Kansas, the KC Chamber will be supporting responsible state legislation to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, providing health coverage to 11,759 currently uninsured residents of Wyandotte County and 10,521 uninsured residents of Johnson County and providing an estimated $49,728,811 in new annual health care spending in Wyandotte County and $44,493,309 in Johnson County. The Chamber has hosted two Medicaid Expansion education briefings in the past 30 days to help businesses learn about the positive fiscal impact of expansion in our region and states.


After a busy October of returning citizens events that elevated the conversation around reentry, recidivism reduction and criminal justice in Kansas and Missouri, the KC Chamber is ready to begin implementing its Workforce Opportunities for Returning Citizens (W.O.R.C.) Initiative pilot program. The aim of the pilot program is to assist employers in implementing a returning citizens hiring program within their place of employment to intentionally consider and hire individuals who are returning or involved in our criminal justice system. The KC Chamber believes the most effective way to lower recidivism and crime is to offer individuals stable, long-term and good-paying jobs. The Chamber also holds that bringing these sidelined individuals into the workforce will increase the labor pool and increase economic productivity for our region. For more information about this program, please contact John Jenks,